While working in my garden the other day, wondering what to write . . . and feeling rather CRABBY about the entire state of affairs, this lovely note popped into my inbox and was just the tonic I needed to elevate my mood. I'm sharing it here (unedited) because it captures the moment so much better than another real-estate pep talk from me ever could.
This note is TRAGICALLY overdue and frankly should be handwritten . . . but in the interest of time, I've decided to use this medium in order to ensure a swift delivery.
We cannot thank you enough for the help, hand holding, and dedication you showed us last year in helping us find our home. This has turned out to be the best decision we have ever made and we could not be happier. . .
Years ago when we were young and courting, Cliff would ask, "You're on a small desert island and there's only one person you can share it with; who would that be?" (What's this? A test?) He'd then give me a group of outrageous candidates from which to choose: "the Reverend Al Sharpton, Idi Amin, Genghis Khan, or Don King?" At which point we'd have an emphatic, but hilarious exchange about why I wouldn't/couldn't choose ANY of them, with Cliff ultimately declaring, "If you don't pick one, it means you want Idi Amin." (Why I agreed to marry Cliff, I'll never know.)
Now comes the 2020 inverted version of that name game, by way of my good friend and colleague, Mavis Delacroix, which is "If you have to 'Shelter in Place,' which four people would you choose to shelter with?"
Happy Passover. Like many families, Cliff, the boys and I had a "virtual Seder" sharing the holiday online with family in Marin, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Oakland, and Santa Monica. Having spent the last four weeks "sheltering in place," it was great to see everyone's face, even if remotely (although it's tough to share macaroons virtually. Their loss.)
And while giving thanks around our respective tables, one of the big takeaways was how fortunate we are to be in a position where we CAN still share the holiday, due primarily to advanced technology. (Thank you Zoom.) So if we, as a society, are now forced to add Covid-19 to the list of "plagues" humanity has endured, how fortunate that, despite the Coronavirus, many of us can still stay fairly well connected to our family and friends and share what's truly important, both culturally and personally (but please don't put me on your chain-letter list; that's oversharing!)
So another week of mostly bad news and admittedly, it's tough to process . . . I've been reaching out when and where I can, catching up on a few phone calls with friends and clients, continuing to bake and deliver cookies, taking meetings on Zoom, hopping onto Facebook chats when available (Thank you Kelly Corrigan) and hitting the Peloton in the mornings just to keep my sanity and my weight in check. One friend called it "the Covid-30. Ha Ha. (Too soon?) But when the BIG accomplishment for the day is getting out of your sweats, that can be rather discouraging, to say the least. "Social distancing" (a misnomer if there ever was one) is putting a cramp in all of our styles and a few pounds on our thighs. (Or is that just me?)
"What's happening with the market?" Is the inquiry from many friends, followed by, "So how are you doing?" I'm grateful, thank you. My family, so far, is safe, and Cliff and I are both relatively healthy. (And I mean it, we're better off than most and we have a lovely home in which to shelter. My garden has never looked better.)
Still, it's tricky navigating the emerging facts and increasing hysteria around Covid-19, both professionally and personally, when our immediate world has essentially come to a screeching halt, when everyone looks at each other as a potential vector, and when a sneeze or a cough gives way to irrational fear.
I just read an essay from our own fabulous neighborhood college admissions counselor, Dane Copeland, entitled "Life Interruptus" that struck a chord. (If you're not on her list, she's worth the read.) To be clear, my boys have both graduated from college, but good writing is good writing so I enjoy her blogs even though that segment of my life is now blessedly over (thank goodness). Her optimistic message is worth passing along, given the sea of negativity that continues to mount day after day after day . . . . For those of us who choose to stay positive, we can feel as if we are swimming upstream. On the other hand, bad news tends to cling, and let's face it, there's no shortage of bad news.
Which makes Dane's message all the more profound. In essence; life is not linear and a life interrupted does not translate to a dead end. Let me repeat that last part because it's incredibly on point right now: "A life interrupted does not translate to a dead end!"
Let's just start with a collective sigh . . . and then take a deep breath. (I think we've earned it.)
With news that the vast majority of us are "non-essential" (that hurts) and consequently, are mandated to "Shelter in Place," it's clear that every segment of society is going to be affected by Covid-19, no matter who we are OR how we pay our bills. While fear of contracting the virus has been rampant among many (my 94-year-old mother-in-law isn't leaving her recliner), the resulting stock market losses will take much longer to resolve, and potentially, cut much deeper. In short, we all need to get back to work before industries (and people) can begin to heal, and there is a LOT of healing to do! (Were it only that simple.)
It's not hyperbole to suggest that we are in unprecedented territory, but as for how "Shelter in Place" applies to Real Estate . . . is it tough to sell a house remotely? (Yes, it is.)
I want my hour back! All week, I've felt as if I've been scrambling, because I have. I blame it on the clock; I really need and use that extra hour in the morning . . . when I wake at 7am instead of 6:00, I'm already well behind.
But it's not just the hour I'd like to retrieve, I'd like to travel back in time please. With news that the Coronavirus will likely get worse before it gets better; that trade and industry has essentially halted in much of the world; that travel has virtually been shut down; that concerts and sporting events have been cancelled; that schools and universities have been suspended; that borders are closed, and that the stock market has dropped precipitously, there's no wonder there's a fair amount of anxiety and fear among the populous. We've been spoon-fed nothing but alarming news, AND to be fair, it IS rather alarming . . . . (Heck, even toilet paper is sold out.)
It was inevitable I suppose, what with the nightly news of Coronavirus and its global spread . . . that Real Estate markets might soon feel the effect. Now that it's come ashore in the U.S., Buyers and Sellers are anxiously wondering if home values are set to finally correct??? And to this appropriate inquiry, I can only reply, "I don't know." (Wouldn't it be great if I did?)
And while it's unclear why Coronavirus has created more media concern than the flu which kills approximately 56,000 people a year and hospitalizes more than 200,000, according to the CDC, there's no doubt that Coronavirus has not only, sadly, resulted in the loss of lives, it has essentially halted travel, caused widespread panic, resulted in steep-market declines, and has put a real crimp in industries worldwide. Talk about a wet blanket!
If windows are the eyes to a home then doors must be its smile. Nothing’s quite as cheery as a brightly painted front door, as noble as double-doors, or as inviting as glass doors. Whether French, sliding, or Nano-folding doors, the ability to see through these partitions immediately brings the outside in, the inside out, and creates a beautiful transition from home to garden; wouldn't you agree?
Thus, when asked, "What do you think we should do to update our home?" I often suggest the Homeowners consider installing a new front door, especially if the property looks out upon a spectacular view or vista.
“Hey Julie,” came the Sunday evening text, “ we visited a house earlier today and the Agent said the Seller is accepting ‘offers as written.’ We think we’d like to submit."
In a market that often requires Buyers to wait a few weeks in order to create a blind-bidding war, ‘offers as written’ provides a nice change of pace. It’s a quicker pace to be sure, but It’s far more likely to deliver the house to the qualified Buyer who is willing to step in and pony up. (It's not for the feint of heart, the insecure, or the neophyte.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.